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Style Shopper: Shop Affordable Quality Heels that aren’t Designer

Okay, so a bit of history before we start. Skip down a bit if you just want to get to the cheaper heels.

I am picky about heels.

VERY picky because I know footwear holds the brunt of your weight, and if they aren’t great, comfortable, well-made heels, they will pinch your feet, feel unsupportive, and generally not make you or your feet happy.

I almost exclusively wear Manolo Blahniks Newcio Heels (secondhand) in this style:

I don’f find the other versions like the BB pumps very comfortable.

For some reason, the higher vamp (the part that covers your toes, not showing toe cleavage) is the most comfortable style for me, and the 3.25″ maximum heel (they range from 2″ to 3.25″), is exactly the kind of heel I love.

I usually put a back blister pad because EVERY HEEL blisters my foot, and I recently added these silicone pads in front for a little padding. I don’t love it, I may remove it, but I do find it helps when I am walking, as I really tend to jam a lot of weight into the front ball of my foot.

For stilettos they are world class and far more comfortable than flashy red-soled Louboutins.

For heels that are not as uncomfortable, you need a thicker heel that is more stacked, and not a stiletto. They are more comfortable if they distribute the weight.

In recent months I have been wearing more short booties like Rag & Bone like these Margot Bootie styles that shows the front ankle part, rather than covering the whole ankle, as it makes my legs look way longer and sexier.

But if you INSIST on a stiletto to be more formal, and want an affordable option (new) that isn’t secondhand and designer, you should look at these Banana Republic Madison 12-hour Heels. They are truly the most comfortable heels for stilettos aside from Manolo Blahniks that I have tried.

Obviously, I will point out the differences in a lower quality heel of this stature versus a Manolo Blahnik, but first..

Note the pointed toe – it is actually not as long and as pointed as my Manolo Blahniks, and it does shorten your leg line a little but I think it makes it a little easier to walk in as you don’t stub or scratch off the leather from the tip of the toe as often.

The heel is about 3.3″ which is my MAXIMUM heel height for my gait, stance, etc. They do have a shorter kitten heel that is a 12-hour heel, but this one really does last 8-hours for me.



I like the suede a lot – I find it is softer than shiny leather, and somehow feels more luxe to me than smooth leather.

These are the colours they come in:

  • Espresso – Dark brown
  • Chestnut – A reddish brown
  • Deep Brown – obvious
  • Biscotti – A pale neutral which incidentally is my skin colour as well (or quite close), so it looks like a nude on me

Here’s what Espresso looked like on my feet:

(Excuse the filthy pants, I was crawling around on a dusty floor)

I don’t really love how low the vamp is – you can see some of my toe cleavage peeking out, because a higher vamp feels more comfortable to me than one that “reveals” toe cleavage.

Still, very walkable.

I’d say their biggest benefit is that they have a GREAT padded insole that takes the stress out of adding insoles and so on:


Their biggest flaw is that I can see the seam of the suede down the shoe’s side, which is a real sign of it not being a quality suede pump, because designer pumps would look like one seamless piece of leather:

The heel itself isn’t bad either, and I don’t love it isn’t rubberized (looks slippery to me), but the fact that it is well stitched is a plus.

For balance and walkability, my Manolos win but only by about a 25% margin, I’d say.

The feel and mould of the Manolos around my foot is much nicer than these. These feel almost like they have a slight gap between the ball of my foot and my arch, which my Manolos do not have. It is almost like my foot is being hugged in my Manolos but just floating slightly above, in these.

Still I cannot find too much fault – these are the most comfortable, walkable heels for their price range, although you can get secondhand Manolos for about $150 – $200 versus $87 for these on sale. Is it worth it to pay double-ish for some secondhand Manolos? Up to you, really.

But these are a great new heel option if you aren’t into secondhand goods.

They also have a shorter kitten heeled version that is a 12-hour pump (obviously, shorter heel, more walkable) that is also interesting.

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